Polycarbonate window shutters flew off store shelves as U.S. homeowners prepared for hurricanes Harvey and Irma and then braced for José and Maria.
The Atlantic hurricane season doesn't end until Nov. 30, and 2017 is on track to rival the most active years. As of Sept. 18, there were 13 named storms, seven hurricanes and four major (Category 3 or stronger) hurricanes.
In Sarasota, Fla., the small staff of Hurricane Safe Products Inc., a manufacturer of storm and security shutters that does business as UltraTek Worldwide, has been busy filling orders and preparing for the launch of a new product created to help those same homeowners. The privately held business says it is the largest buyer of PC in the state, and it is getting into a new material.
Co-owner Steve Motosko said corrugated PC shutters are his best-sellers, but the company's patented flat PC shutters introduced 11/2 years ago are being used increasingly to secure upper-floor and arched windows in homes and businesses. The clear panels are unobtrusive and can be left in place over windows that are a hassle to cover in a hurry.
UltraTek will be out with its next product — a patented motorized hybrid shutter — in a couple weeks, Motosko said. It has impact- and heat-resistant chlorinated PVC material on the exterior-facing side of the slats and high-strength aluminum on the interior-facing side.
"We just got Florida building code approval. It's unlike anything out there," Motosko said in a phone interview.
Called GreenTek, this rolling shutter will keep houses in warm climates cooler all year, improve security and protect against wind and storm damage during hurricane season, according to Motosko.
"PVC doesn't transfer heat like aluminum, so that will save on electricity," he said of the potential to reduce daily use of air conditioners. "And, it's hurricane rated for the high-velocity zone."
In these zones, which includes Broward and Dade counties and the cities of Fort Lauderdale and Miami, structures must stand up to hurricane winds of at least 130 mph and critical infrastructure must withstand winds of at least 156 mph.
GreenTek buyers will be able to control the shutters with their smartphones if they want to block the sun to watch TV outside of the hurricane season or if they need to block wind, hail and objects-turned-projectile. Motosko said the shutters have passed large missile impact tests and pressure cycle tests.
"If a hurricane is coming, you can shut the house down in a matter of seconds," he said.